Plenty of advice for achieving quality sleep focuses on lifestyle changes that can take days, weeks, or even longer to successfully put into practice. Also, common sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome usually require at least a couple of trips to the doctor before you’re able to fully get them under control.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do today that’ll increase your odds of sleeping better tonight and waking up refreshed tomorrow. Here are simple, science-backed strategies to try.
1. Skip the snooze button
When you’re tired in the morning, hitting snooze might not be the best move. Those few extra minutes tend to be less restful than your pre-alarm sleep–so when you finally do get out of bed, you end up feeling even more tired. In fact, one study found that high school students with poor sleep habits like hitting snooze ended up doing worse in school, suggesting that extending your time in bed could end up doing more harm than good.
2. Open your blinds ASAP
Fumbling around in the dark might feel like a gentler way to ease into your day. But your body’s biological clock relies on sunlight to tell you when it’s time to feel awake by raising your body temperature and pumping out energizing hormones like cortisol, say National Sleep Foundation experts. On the flip side, it takes darkness for your body temperature to start to drop and release the sleep hormone melatonin.
By staying in the dark after you get out of bed, you end up confusing those signals. The result? You’re groggy all morning and end up having a harder time falling asleep at night.
3. Exercise in the morning
One study, conducted by researchers at Appalachian State University, found that people who regularly scheduled a 30-minute sweat session for 7:00 A.M. tended to sleep longer compared to those who completed the same amount of exercise at 1:00 P.M. or 7:00 P.M. And it didn’t have to be intense: Moderate exercise, like walking, achieved results.
4. Work near the window
Remember the part about sunlight being crucial for regulating your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle? You don’t just need it first thing in the morning. You need it throughout the day.
The solution? Try to get some of your work done near a bright, sunny window. (Or if that’s not doable, at least head outside for some fresh air during your lunch break.)